News Archives - Earth Charter

Global Gathering of Storytellers in Edinburgh and the Earth Charter

Global Gathering of StoryTellers in EdinburgOn 25 – 27 October, a special Global Gathering of Storytellers took place in Edinburgh, as part of the 70th Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2017.

The event “If not now, when?” offered a space for participants to consider “what the role storytellers have in the twenty-first century and how can they contribute to the Earth Charter”.

The Festival celebrates live oral storytelling, past, present and future. This was an outstanding event full of sharing and cross-cultural learning, which among other things had the intention to foster a network of activist’s storytellers.

IMG_0942Mirian Vilela, ECI Executive Director, took part in this event to present the Earth Charter and invite participants to join the Earth Charter movement and link the core message articulated in the Earth Charter to the stories they share.

She emphasized the importance to create a new world narrative of life in our shared planet and the important role of stories to help us shift our mind-set.

Grian A. Cutanda, from Avalon Project and Mirian Vilela PresentacionGranada University, presented a summary of his doctoral research on Traditional StoryTelling and the Earth Charter.

IMG_0968Cutanda continues to work in a project to collect traditional stories from diverse cultures that can be linked to the Earth Charter principles and is inviting storytellers from around the world to engage with it.

More information on his research can be found in this link:

At this occasion, the Global Gathering of storytellers fully embraced the Earth Charter and expressed their willingness to contribute to the process of linking the Earth Charter to their work and practice of live storytelling.In a specific way, storytellers will collaborate in identifying and collecting traditional stories that speak to each of the Earth Charter principle.

In addition, the Gathering wished to take the first steps towards forming an Marta, G MacPherson and Mirian Vilelainternational network of storytellers committed to the Earth Charter. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, as host of the Global Gathering, agreed to assist with the first steps in this initiative, in consultation with the Earth Charter Secretariat.

The event was convened by Donald Smith, Director, Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Scottish Storytelling Center. Click here for an article from Mr. Smith on this.


Click here for the programme of the event

Click here for the Scottish Storyteller Center website

Click here for the Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) website





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Director of Scottish International Storytelling Festival shares his reflection



By Donald Smith

Donald Smith

Can imagination change the world? That was the question behind this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Open Word-Open World. Of course, the answer is ‘not on its own’. However, imagination can change the way we look at things and pave the way for action.

This year, as part of the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a Festival City, storytellers chose to support The Earth Charter Initiative. The Earth Charter sets out principles and values that are vital if humanity is to have a future on this planet. Begun in the nineteen eighties, it has been progressively adopted by voluntary organisations, NGO’s and governments round the world.

As you would expect the Charter emphasises ecology, social justice, conflict resolution and education. But above all, it addresses the need to end our alienation from the rest of nature, and realise our connectedness with other forms of life. Earth is first and foremost, the Charter affirms, ‘Our Home’.

Humanity is part of a vast revolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life’s evolution.

The root cause of humanity’s survival crisis is not our part in nature but our disconnect – our willingness to use the rest of existence as a tool designed only for us, to be discarded or even destroyed when we think that its usefulness is exhausted. That profound alienation from life is a matter for imagination and emotion. It is our apathy- our lack of fellow feeling- that is destroying the planet and ourselves with it.

Yet we are part of nature, and nature is part of us. The web of life is inclusive and inter-connected. Storytellers have woven these relationships and patterns into their narrative webs for millennia. Stories generate understanding and engage hearts as well as minds. That is why the Storytelling Festival brought storytellers together in a Global Gathering to consider what they can contribute to The Earth Charter. This discussion could shape their worldwide art and practice for decades to come.

However, why in Scotland, and in Edinburgh? Seventy years ago, Edinburgh was launched as a European Festival city in order that after six years of bloody global conflict, the arts would be re-established as a means of peaceful understanding and co-existence. The location was inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment with its sense of universal human rights and values, yet also with an awareness of the need for new Enlightenment to embrace a post-colonial world.

The Scottish Enlightenment though did not end with the eighteenth century- a common misunderstanding- but continues to the present day. One of the Scottish Enlightenment’s most creative thinkers, Patrick Geddes, belongs to the early twentieth century. He was celebrated in the Edinburgh Art Festival this summer because of his seminal influence on ‘Making the Future’ and he is also an inspirer of the Storytelling Festival and Centre.

Geddes was an ecologist before his time, a community arts activist, a sociologist, an educationalist, a social reformer, and a ground breaking civic planner. Moreover, his ideas were formed in the crucible of Edinburgh’s then decaying Old Town, where he brought people together to re-story the future. That is what puts Geddes right into the present day- our potential to change the narrative.

Patrick Geddes defied the still prevalent idea that life is driven by competition and conflict- the survival of the fittest. Instead he emphasised that human consciousness can change and evolve, beyond the legacy of physical evolution. Humanity can think and feel differently and so make the future. Yet creative change can only happen, according to Geddes, if we understand our place in the wider universe of life.

There is a lot of Patrick Geddes in The Earth Charter. Nevertheless, the time has come for a leap of consciousness, a step-change rather than gradual development. This is the opportunity posed by humanity’s current crisis- the possibility of a radical shift. However, if we shift backwards into barbarous conflict, that is also the threat. What would a leap forward involve?

We might turn for an answer to a modern storyteller, John Berger, who meditated long and hard on the meaning of the art of live stories. A year before his death at 90, Berger described storytelling as above all an act of hospitality. A willingness to share someone else’s experience and emotions. To wear as it were someone else’s clothes, and feel their lives on our bodies, minds and hearts.

Could such acts of radical empathy hold the clue to our common future? As Berger had written years before, ‘to try to understand the experience of another, it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.’ Or, in the phrase that made Berger famous, we can cultivate ‘another way of seeing’.

Yet that requires a leap of imagination, because as human beings we have inherited a different habit of thought and feeling. ‘Us and Them’ is our underlying default psychology. Regularly we revert to a group mentality of insiders and outsiders. Even in the routine practicalities of everyday life, we have to make an effort to include the outsider, to step out of our habitual comfort zones.

However, such low-level exclusions are also the source of oppression, injustice, conflict and violence on a large scale. When the underlying group mentality takes hold under pressure we are individually and collectively capable of horrifying cruelty, because the ‘Them’ are no longer part of the human ‘Us’. A dehumanised ’Them’ become the object of indifference or even virulent hatred.

The human ability to alienate and hate has been greatly increased by social media. The absence of face-to-face contact makes it easier to name call, denigrate and abuse other people. Gradually that habit of mind corrupts and degrades our social solidarity.

Yet, through self-awareness and empathy, we have the ability to change. When abused others are recognised as characters in a story we share, we can no longer dehumanise them as alien beings. Or as the old proverb has it, ‘once I have heard my enemy’s story, he is no longer my enemy’. Social media also has the power to connect. If North Koreans were able to speak with people beyond their borders, then the bubble of fear in which they are forced to live would be burst.

In leaping the mental barricades of division, we use imagination, but also reason, because we are all inter-dependent, with one common home, the earth. There is no ‘final solution’ that evades the need to live together. The efficacy of destruction and death is a delusion of misdirected power. In the end, the bell is also tolling for us.

Still, the decisive attraction of radical empathy may not be reason or imagination but its emotional fulfilments. We are above all creatures of emotion. The feelings generated by inclusion and fellow-feeling are richer and more fulfilling than a group mentality driven by fear and insecurity. Negative emotion gnaws away at the wellbeing not only of its objects but its subjects too. What is true on a personal level also applies to communities, ethnicities, and nationalities. Hostility is a slow killer, hatred an outright poison.

What might trigger a leap of consciousness? Angus Peter Campbell, poet and storyteller, has just published a novel called ‘Memory and Straw’. In it, a young Artificial Intelligence innovator is working on designing mask-bots with human facial characteristics for robots. They will replace carers looking after the elderly and infirm. This work sets Gavin off on a journey into his own family history, which his partner Emma does not share. As she and Gavin sit looking at the rebuilt Reichstag in Berlin, she tells him:

Your proper work should really be this. To make a story out of glass and steel, not memory and straw. You need to deal with things, as they are, not how they were.

Conversely, Gavin’s personal quest has already overtaken his commitment to technological innovation – he has been captivated by memory and straw.

Angus Peter Campbell acknowledges this antithesis yet moves beyond it. There are two things, he senses that can unite us as human in both realms- glass and steel; memory and straw. These are the love of the present moment, its diversity, richness and uniqueness. Or, as John Berger puts it, ‘hold everything dear’.

Conversely, to enable this awareness we have sometimes to live in slow time. We have to experience our own selves as something real and present, for it is in that way we experience the life of everything around us as significant and real. To empathise with others, and other forms of life, helps gives us a consciousness beyond just existing. In the act of storytelling, a community of awareness is created. The individual consciousness is caught up into something richer and enriching, as the ‘I’ of experience, becomes the ‘we’ of shared story.

Some look to religion to provide such a sense of meaning. If human beings, with or without religious beliefs, act as if life has meaning, then we create the meaning, and become part of it. Storytelling is an art that creates meaning through what links disparate events into a narrative, the atoms into a dance.

Storytellers and story listeners share the making of meaning by what they put into the gaps between the words. They are co-creators and inventors. Therefore, we can endorse the excellent principles and values of The Earth Charter, but it is by storying and living them that the future will be changed. Angus Peter Campbell gives this insight, in a musical metaphor, to Gavin’s partner Emma, who is a composer.

I bet you looked at the notes and said to yourself ‘Music!’. But you’d be wrong. That’s not music on the other side of this page –  just lines and dots and symbols. The music doesn’t happen until you sing through and round and between the marks.

As the Scottish International Storytelling Festival approached, the worst consequences of humanity’s default psychology- ‘Them and Us’ – were once again on global display. The destructive folly of harnessing such emotions for political ends is terrifyingly apparent. The rest of Planet Earth is required to wait on the side-lines, while single track humans indulge in competitive displays of technological power, that are fatally undermining our own means of existence. Such delusions of control literally ‘cost the earth’.

However, the seeds of a different future are already in our hands, minds and hearts. The Global Gathering felt for participants like a transformative event. There was radical empathy and a creative passion to open up the shared web of life; to fully connect us with the diverse riches of nature’s patterns and possibilities. The Gathering took the first tentative steps towards forming a global network to work with the Earth Charter.

Above all, there was hope, and joy. The future is a story we can make together. If not now, when?

Donald Smith is Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2017, Open Word-Open World. ‘Memory and Straw’ by Angus Peter Campbell was published in August 2017 by Luath Publishing.

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Organizations endorse the Earth Charter and commit to using it

The following are new Earth Charter organization endorsements:

In Mexico, the city government of Aguascalientes reiterated their endorsement to the Earth Charter and workshops have been organized in in Sinaloa. Click here for more.

In Costa Rica, EARTH University and the Municipality of Tibas

In Canada, the City government of Victoria approved a resolution in which the express their agreement and commitment to the Earth Charter.

Aval Aguascalientes2

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Aguascalientes endorsement and Earth Charter workshops in Sinaloa Mexico

September of 2017 has been difficult for Mexico citizens, who experienced two earthquakes and numerous fatalities. We would like to express our solidarity with all Mexicans, especially to the members of the Mexican Earth Charter Network, who have been actively mobilising aid to those who are in need.

Despite of these difficulties, there were two very positive actions around the Earth Charter in this country.

On September 22, the Municipality of Aguascalientes confirmed their Earth Charter endorsement. The Mayor of the Municipality Mrs. Teresa Jiménez, signed the endorsement during a ceremony, where she mentioned that this endorsement symbolizes their commitment to promote sustainable development in the Municipality, adopting a universal ethical framework to create a better common future.


Endorsement Aguascalientes

The focal point of the State of Sinaloa, Julio Morales, organized a workshop to promote the Earth Charter and lifestyles based on sustainable actions, with students from the Autonomous Intercultural University of Sinaloa. This workshop was replicated twice.

Taller Carta de la Tierra Sinaloa20-21 September 2017 at Los Mochis
22 -23 September 2017 at Choix

This workshop developed in the north of Sinaloa, Mexico, was oriented to strengthen the capacity of the participants to do collective work. Participants had the opportunity to identify local and global problems and to find solutions that improve their quality of life and quality of time. Among the solutions, they proposed carrying out economic actions that would entail a reduction of consumption; also the design of social organization institutions to address common conflicts.

The methodology was participatory, inclusive and dynamic, taking into account the participants’ initial knowledge. The collective learning was promoted through various fun team work activities, which allowed participants to focus and reflect on the design of actions for sustainability.

Target population
The target population was students of Autonomous Intercultural University of Sinaloa from the three campuses of the municipality of Ahome, El Fuerte and Choix. Students from all Departments were invited. A large part of the student population are indigenous people from different parts of the Mexican republic.

The workshop lasted 8 hours, in which there were moments where basic concepts were presented, using non-harmful and very simple materials, such as newspaper and tape. The rest of the activities were of collective work without the need to consume any material. Strategies for collective action were analyzed through participatory methodologies. In addition to the group dynamics, virtual platforms were used to enrich the discussions. The workshop concluded with the proposal of plans for the implementation of community and personal improvement projects.


Grupo Taller Carta de la Tierra Sinaloa

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Severn Cullis-Suzuki reflections and World Premier of video project, “I’m Only a Child, but…”

By: Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Earth Charter International Council Member


My Dear Earth Charter Community,

I am reflecting on our Earth Charter event at Leiden University at the Hague (held on Friday, 29 September).  I was able to join Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp on stage at an SDG – Earth Charter Meet-up, organized by fellow Earth Charter Council member Alide Roerink and Earth Charter Friend Harriet Sjerps and their colleagues.

The program was moderated by EC Council member Ama van Severn Awraham en AlideDantzig’s colleague and soul sister Lynn Zebeda.  It was a beautiful day.

I was not expecting to be so overcome with emotion at seeing Rabbi Awraham, it was so powerful to see him.  It was 20 years ago that we gathered at Rio+5 to work on the first Earth Charter Draft.  Rabbi Awraham’s stories and words were so potent, full of meaning and wisdom.

Alide spoke at the event too, explaining the connections between the Earth Charter and the SDGs, and I felt so moved by her too, involved for over 17 years.  There we were, all still working away for these beautiful principles for survival.  All still Here.

This year is also the 25th anniversary since Rio.  I was very proud that here, at this Earth Charter event with Alide and Rabbi Awraham, we held the World Premiere of our Rio 1992 Anniversary video project, “I’m Only a Child, but…”  25 children participated in this video compilation.

See the video here:


I hope that you enjoy it, and will spread it in your networks!  We had such a positive response from the children participating that we are continuing a second phase of the project – we have opened a YouTube channel where we will have instructions there for how to make a video, and there we can upload all the videos (including already a wonderful one from Sao Paulo!).  We want to give children a portal to their power!  And amplify the challenge to today’s adult generations.

20170929_144109Rabbi Awraham left the program early, as he was preparing for the Day of Atonement, such an important time, when one thinks about what one is sorry for.

It reminded me of how I have been feeling very negative about the state of the world of late, as so many disasters have been coming to pass. There are many upsetting things happening in our world, and any number of reasons to become upset, and impatient.  I have been feeling very small.

But after this day, the conclusion of my visit in the Netherlands – a week of working together with old friends and making new ones – I felt uplifted by an amazing community.

images (1)I am uplifted by the spirit (of young entrepreneurs at Impact Hub Amsterdam, and at Impact Startup Fest Europe), by the projects (the De Ceuvel community in North Amsterdam, the innovations of Dr. Monk and the bee friendly work of the Pollinators…), and by the endless dedication of the Earth Charter friends and community.   This visit reaffirmed this community to me.

I am so proud to be part of this movement with all of you!

With much respect.




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UMAPAZ Earth Charter in Action Programme in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Foto 3 Formacion de Agentes SocioAmbientalesDuring the first half of 2017, around 19.880 people participated in courses, seminars, workshops and meetings at the Open University of Environment and Culture of Peace (UMAPAZ), and 160.000 participants attended sessions of the Ibirapuera and Carmo Planetariums, also managed by the University. When UMAPAZ was created, it was inspired by the Earth Charter and it served as one of the foundations of this institution.

The UMAPAZ is linked to the Municipal Secretariat of Green and Environment of the City of São Paulo (Brazil), and it is located in the Ibirapuera Park. All UMAPAZ activities, courses or events have been offered free of charge to the citizens of the city of Sao Paulo and to those interested from other cities as well.

Since 2009, UMAPAZ has been developing the Earth Charter in Action Programme with an articulated set of activities aimed at sensitizing, training, and supporting urban socio-environmental agents to carry out socio-environmental projects and contribute to a more just and sustainable city.

In 2017, the Earth Charter in Action Programme of UMAPAZ has carried out the following activities:

  • Earth Charter Encounter with alumi – On 25 January Foto 4 UMAPAZ, Sao Paulo y Carta de la Tierra2017, a meeting brought together the socio-environmental urban agents of the classes held from 2009 to 2016, with the objective of sharing achievements and strengthening alliances.
  • 14th Generation of the Training Course for Urban Socio-Environmental Agents, from April to July 2017, with this 100 hours course, 44 people were certified and 26 socio-environmental projects were carried out in the city.  Some quotes from participants are as follow:

-“I learned to take a fresh look at the city.”

“Putting ideas into practice and still feel safe to have a basis for that is very good! Meeting people (group and speakers) who already act in the area is stimulating, beautiful, hopeful and enriching.

 -“I see the Earth Charter – urban socio-environmental agents, as seeds of trees that are being planted and whose fruits are intended to be harvested in the future.

  • Course of Socio-environmental Agent’s Foto 2 UMAPAZ formacion Carta de la TierraTerritories, in association with SESC Itaquera, focusing the Aricanduva River basin, in the East of São Paulo, from April to July 2017, with 60 hours and 47 people certified. Participants expressed:

-“I came out of this experience with the willingness to put into action all that I have learned here, and recognizing the possibility of expansion of knowledge and relationships.

-” The experience of meeting groups and finding learning spaces in the city was wonderful.”

V Seminar on Environmental Education, sowing the Educating City, on Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, This meeting took place on 25 August 2017, organized in partnership with the NGO Aprendiz and included the Programme Sustainable turn around of São Paulo. The Seminar involved Rose Marie Inojosa, Cristina Moreno, and Mariana Noronha, from the NGO Public Agenda.

Foto 2 Carta de la Tierra actividades en la UMAPAZSome activities that are still being carried out, from September to October 2017, are:

  • Experiences in Urban Permaculture Course, based on active learning, aims to provide urban socio-environmental agents with experiences in urban permaculture workshops in different peripheral areas of the city, sharing knowledge and demonstrating how much the city has to learn from its peripheries. Association with Sustainable Socio-environmental Culture Point; Community Association of Vila Nova Esperanza; Architecture in Permaculture and Eco-Friendly House. Bioconstruction Workshops, Herb Spiral, Agroforestry Biodynamic Plant, and Intervention in Prainha Urban Park, in the Grajaú region.

Activities in preparation for November 2017:

  • VI Environmental Education Seminar sowing the Educating City.

 Foto 1 Encuentro Carta de la Tierra UMAPAZ enero 2017For 2018, the Earth Charter programme at UMAPAZ plans to hold:

-The 15th Training Course of Urban Socio-environmental Agents – beginning March

– The 2nd Class of the Articulation Course of Socio-environmental Agent’s Territories – beginning: August

– The 2nd Class of the Experiences Course in Urban Permaculture – beginning: September

– The 7th and 8th edition of the Environmental Education Seminar sowing the Educating City – July and November
The Earth Charter in Action programme of UMAPAZ is coordinated by biologist Débora Pontalti Marcondes and geographer Lia Salomão Lopes.

For more information on UMAPAZ and the Earth Charter in Action program visit:

Contact: dmarcondes[@] or  liasalomaolopes[@]


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Registration open: Online Certificate Programme on Education for Sustainable Development 2018

Online Certificate 2018 photoRegistration is now open for the 2018 Online Certificate Programme on Education for Sustainable Development! Click here to apply.

This unique programme is designed to provide participants with the understanding, knowledge, and skills to integrate Education for Sustainable Development and Education for Global Citizenship into classrooms, schools, and curricula with depth and creativity. It offers a space to learn about the Sustainable Development Goals with a special focus on the SDG 4.7

Unlike most programmes in sustainability, the Earth Charter is used as a central feature of this approach.The Earth Charter provides a broad, inclusive and powerful values-based orientation that can be infused within the missions and purposes of most educational programmes. The methodologies introduced are ones that can be applied to all learning across the curriculum and across grade levels.

The Certificate Programme has a duration of five months. It consists of four courses plus five seminars. Each course consists of five sessions (one per week). The minimum hourly load per participant required to take this programme is 124 hours.

All information on the Programme can be found here.

The Programme has four courses, which are:OC photo 3

  1. A Planetary Perspective: Toward a Culture of Peace, Sustainability, and Well-Being – Facilitators: Lorna Down and Rosalyn McKeown
  2. Values and Principles for Sustainability: The Earth Charter as an Ethical Framework and a Call to Action – Facilitators: Mirian Vilela and Alicia Jimenez
  3. Transformative Learning and ESD: A Holistic Pedagogy Grounded in the Neurosciences – Facilitator: Sam Crowell
  4. The Way Forward: Models and Skills for Implementing ESD with the Earth Charter – Facilitator: Mark Hathaway

The Programme will start on 17 January and will finish on 20 June 2018. The deadline to apply with special discount is 15 November 2017.

Download here the Programme´s brochure and watch our video for more information:

For any questions write to:


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Celebrating the Earth Charter in Åre Sweden

By Tonia Moya, Executive Director, Green Cross Sweden

Foto 1 igloo 9On 22 and 23 September in Åre, Sweden, a celebration of the Earth Charter took place as part of the Åre Sustainability Summit to mark the 15th year anniversary since the Åre Municipality adopted the Earth Charter.  Tonia Moya, Executive Director, Green Cross Sweden, and Katrin Wissing, Chairman of the Urban Planning and Infrastructure Administration of Åre Municipality, opened the Earth Charter Celebration and the Åre Sustainability Summit.

Green Cross Ambassadors Ebbot Lundberg, Roger Pontare and Tiokasin Ghosthorse, contributed with this celebration with a musical performances, and Green Cross Ambassador Laila Spik spoke on the Indigenous Sami knowledge of utilizing nature as a source of medicine and nutrition.

The 4th Annual Åre Sustainability Summit was made possible by the Åre Municipality in cooperation with “Hushållningssällskapet” or Sweden’s Agricultural Society . The Åre Sustainability Summit is a grassroots initiative and transboundary event in the Country of Jämtland that promotes sustainable development. It aims to inspire innovation, enterprise and grassroots initiatives, as well as political action. The Summit consists of lectures, discussion groups, meetings and networking between speakers and participants. It aims to spread knowledge, inspiration and hope as a springboard to motivate businesses and the public to move from words to action toward a more sustainable world.

 How Åre signed the Earth Charter

Foto 3 Oren Lyon Sweden

Chief Oren Lyons

The history of how Åre became the first municipality in Sweden to sign the Charter begins when Native American Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga Council of Chiefs, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, started visiting the land of Sapmi at the beginning of the new millennium. Working with Green Cross Sweden delegation trips where arranged and meetings were held with all kinds of people in the region. The purpose was cultural exchange and to find allies for the Earth.

In the North, the Chief met representatives of Sami villages, local administrations, businesses and NGOs, all motivated by the call for sustainable development and deeper commitment to the planet. As a result of Chief Lyons’ many travels, on December 2, 2002, Åre became the first municipality in Sweden to adopt the Earth Charter into their environmental governance policy, along with the other strategies such as Agenda 21. Benckt Aspman, the former Environmental Strategist for Åre Municipality said, “The main incentive adapting the Earth Charter was that is way for local governments to unify long term development in the areas of economic sustainability, ecological sustainability and social sustainability.”

Jan Danielson, the late Chairman of Green Cross Sweden, environmental journalist and former host for Swedish television’s nature program “Mitt-I Naturen,” was also an influential voice in Sweden to promote “the People’s Earth Charter.” Others grassroots initiatives that grew in the Jämtland region to promote the declaration were from local NGO groups, as well as the United Nations Association of Sweden in Åre, where the women’s group led by Margareta Österberg was active.


Living examples of the Earth Charter

Are Municipality photo 4In a day and age when our world can benefit from positive news and good examples, Sweden and the valley of Åre may be a good role model for sustainable development. The region was one of the first to start recycling and begin waste sorting in rural communities. Like many Swedish municipalities, Åre is working to become fossil free, climate smart, and energy effective, and it supports internal programs that encourage the reduction of transport emissions.  Additionally, the municipality began focusing on “green” transportation with various incentives. Together Jämtkraft AB and the towns of Östersund, Trondheim and Sundsvall, promote the use of electric vehicles with the “Green Highway”. This is a transport corridor with recharge stations for automobiles and trains from Sundsvall to Trondheim. Helping to increase the collective traffic is their initiative to allow cost free travel for children and youth on busses. Another was creating a better infrastructure in developing information and communications technology for virtual meetings. “Sustainable destination development” became a term used in the region after Helena Lindahl, with the Business and Commerce of Åre Municipality, began a project to create sustainable tourist destinations. Working with the Natural Step and local tourist organizations, the project worked to assist businesses and local administrations to structurally lighten their environmental footprint and encourage innovation. Åre implemented the Sustainable Tourist Destinations program together with the other regions of Bohuslän, Kiruna, Stockholm’s Archipelago and Vimmerby in Sweden.

Are Municipality photo 2

Åre is a region of tourism with one of Sweden’s largest and most popular ski resorts in the Nordic countries. Tourism goes back in time when the ski resort with its’ mountain top “Åreskutan” was founded 108 years ago. The vast mountain valleys are breathtaking, and the history of tourism goes back to the 1800s, attracting guests to visit therapy spas and breathe fresh air. Today the municipality has invested in establishing nature paths for hiking, as well providing public information on the environment.

In Sweden

Green Cross has inspired companies like Plantagon and the Natural Academy Learning Lab, who are among the first in Sweden to adopt the Earth Charter in the Articles of Association for their companies. Göran Gennvi, CEO for the leadership consultancy company, Nature Academy, is one of the many that has been inspired by the Earth Charter. His motto is “nature is my classroom and teacher.”  According to Göran Gennvi, “It is possible to run business based on an ethical framework where environmental protection, human rights, social and economic justice and peace go hand in hand.” Plantagon is another company and non-profit organization working with innovative technical solutions and architecture, which has put the Earth Charter into their Articles of Association, along with the UN Global Compact.

Photo Are MunicipalityOne of the goals of the Åre Municipality is to have a good relationship with the Sami people. The Åre Valley is a part of Sapmi, the land of the Sami people, who have lived there for at least a thousand years. During Chief Oren Lyons’ many visits with the Sami people, many stories and the history of their peoples were shared, and it was evident that both the Native Americans and Sami have many things in common. They share the complicated challenges of maintaining their ways of life; of land rights; a history of exploitation; and, their tremendous knowledge and wisdom of the natural world.

For the rest of us, the Indigenous philosophy of living close to the Earth and in tune with nature is the lesson and challenge of our time. We must listen to the Indigenous people of our world who can help us build a sustainable future at this critical time in Earth’s history. Our survival as the human race may depend on it.

The Earth Charter is a good place to start.Are Municipality photo 1

When reflect on the global security crisis and the need to take action, it is also important to understand that the very root of the crisis, from climate change and the destruction of our Mother Earth, lies within heart of man. We can call it consciousness. This is where the healing and change must come. We must work together over international and ideological boarders, and conflicts. This heart and consciousness of humanity is something we cannot see or touch however it is the root for all human activity. The Earth Charter is something tangible, structured and a strategic instrument with ethical guidelines that can empower humanity at the crossroads, on our inner journey of awakening, transformation and healing.

More information can be found here:

“It’s time to realize our purpose here on the planet. Do you want to be the problem or do you want to be the solution?” Earth Charter is calling for your arrival back to Mother Earth so welcome aboard!”

– Ebbot Lundberg,

Chairman green Cross Sweden

The Earth Charter

Are Municipality photo 3Just as we have human rights for people, we have the Earth Charter for the Earth and its living community. The purpose is to help us live in harmony with our planet. The Earth Charter declaration is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It was in 1994 that Mikhail Gorbachev, the founding President of Green Cross International, and the late Maurice Strong, Chairman of the Earth Summit, began the work to bring forth the Charter. With the support of their respective organizations and help from the government of Netherlands, the work continued as a civil society initiative and became what was the most inclusive participatory process ever associated with the creation of an international declaration. With the input from hundreds of thousands of people in 50 plus countries, and after a six-year worldwide consultation process (1994–2000), the Earth Charter was launched in 2000. Maurice Strong once said, “The Earth Charter is one of the most inclusive and holistic documents in existence with a guidelines for all human activity. The Earth Charter consists of up sixteen principles and sub-principles within the four pillars: I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life, II. Ecological Integrity, III. Social and Economic Justice, and IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace.

Today in the year 2017 we are even more at a critical time in human history where every individual, local community and world governments must awaken. Today, the Earth Charter is a global movement, a vision of hope, and a call to action, and is endorsed by over 6,000 organizations, including many governments and international organizations. Mikhail Gorbachev said “My hope is that the Earth Charter will be provides a guiding light for human behavior toward the environment in the next century.” The Earth Charter is significant today as like Indigenous philosophy is holistic and applies to all human activity and living in peace with the Earth.



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EARTH University endorses the Earth Charter

We congratulate the EARTH University in Guácimo, Costa Rica, for its Earth Charter endorsement. This endorsement took place in a ceremony on 22 September 2017, in the framework of the world day without cars.

EARTH University endorsement 3

The Rector of EARTH University, Mr. Arturo Condo, and the Executive Director of the Earth Charter International, Ms. Mirian Vilela, spoke during this ceremony. Mr. Condo mentioned that with the Earth Charter “we are gaining more elements of a global language” for their actions in favor of sustainable agriculture.  EARTH University mission and projects are very aligned with the principles of the Earth Charter and have been realizing them into practice; therefore, it is important to articulate these actions with the language of global ethical principles.

EARTH University endorsement

It was a colorful ceremony, with dance and the participation of students, professors and administrative staff.  Participants were able to sign the endorsement in a tree-like poster, where each signature was in one of the leaves of the tree.

EARTH University, is an international university established in 1990, its mission seeks to “prepare leaders with ethical values to contribute to sustainable development and to construct a prosperous and just society.”

EARTH University endorsement Costa RicaEARTH University endorsement

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Major International Symposium on Laudato sì to be held in Costa Rica at the end of November

Laudato si conference imageThe International Symposium on Ecology “Laudato sì, Care for Our Common Home, a Necessary Conversion to Human Ecology”, one of the most important international, academic and ecological event of the year organized by the Vatican, will take place in Costa Rica from November 29 to December 1, 2017, at Wyndham Herradura Hotel in San Jose. It is the first time this event will be held in the Central American and Caribbean region.

This International Symposium will be addressing the topic of sustainable development and climate change on our planet through the lenses of the Laudati sì. The activity is organized by the Catholic University of Costa Rica with the support of Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, which holds this event on an annual basis. This year´s event will be its seventh symposium and it is expected to involve academics, scientists, businesspeople, priests, seminarians, students from different areas, religious people, educators, government officials, and other participants interested in the care for our common home. Registrations are opened.

The event will gather highly prestigious speakers from the Vatican and some of the best universities around the world, including:

  • His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M. Prefect Emeritus of Sacred Congregation for clergy and Amazonia Commission President
  • His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
  • Gonzalo Tejerina Arias O.S.A., Dean of the Theology Department of the University of Salamanca
  • Tomás Insua, Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School- Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement
  • Augusto Zampini, University of Durham, Department of Theology and Religion, member of CAFOD
  • Michael Green, Executive Director of Social Progress Imperative
  • Roberto Artavia Loría, President of VIVA Trust
  • Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO
  • Father Josafá Carlos de Siqueira, S.J., Dean of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Unlike the previous events, which addressed theological/dogmatic topics, this year’s symposium focuses on practical theology, addressing a topic that is of global and common interest to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, political affiliations or nationalities, given that climate change and the protection of our planet concerns everyone. The symposium seeks to foster dialogue between reason and faith, bringing together theologians and scientists to discuss inevitable situations such as climate change, the health of our planet, and our legacy for future generations.Pope with partial quote

The event will include the presentation of an assessment tool to measure countries’ implementation of the Encyclical Laudato si. The Laudato sì Observatory of the Catholic University of Costa Rica will also be inaugurated. The objective of the observatory will be to conduct environmental and social monitoring for the planet, by collecting data to feed the development index as well as disseminating the results of each measurement and any related studies.

The Earth Charter International was invited to take part in this Symposium and help coordinate one of the roundtables, and to join the Laudato Si Observatory, collaborating with some of its projects. We welcome this collaboration, and intend to finds ways to show the close similarities and linkages between the Laudato sì and the Earth Charter.

See reflections on this in the following link:

For more information and registration, please visit:


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